Friday, December 18, 2009

Hello Everyone!

My blog has moved to its own web page - yay! Please visit me there - I enjoy all your comments, please keep them coming!

Monday, December 7, 2009

Social media dangerous for the younger generation?

Tonight I attended a social media forum for a volunteer organization I’m involved with (I know, you’re thinking – “Why would a social media expert like myself go to a social media forum?” – because you can always learn more…write that down). Anyway, at the forum, one of the ladies asked a question about how she had read that social media was hurting children because they weren’t learning how to speak to people face-to-face.

Ok, I see her point – barely, however, I believe that this same thing was said about TV, the telephone, cell phones, the internet...I could go on and on. I understand that this creates a new problem for parents. Not only do they have to monitor their children’s cell phones and internet activity, they now have to monitor social media posts and interactions.

But I disagree. I think that social media may actually be a great way for ‘tweens (read: ages 10 to 12) to engage in conversation with others, learn more about the world and other cultures, and overall, learn how to interact with their peers. For instance, one of the main rules of social media is to be interested as well as be interesting. That means that to engage with others, they must be interested in what the other is saying, or ask questions about that person.

Another point is that social media allows ‘tweens to see people’s personalities instead of just their looks. Ultimately it gives them a real idea of what a real person is, the individual personalities, and not just what a person wears.

Parents should embrace the capabilities of social media (just as they did with the internet, the cell phone, etc.) and find a way to teach their child how to be careful with social media, but also use it for the benefits and learning opportunities it can create.

Social media brings us a way to break out of our shells and learn how to interact with others gradually instead of throwing a shy, socially-awkward teenager into a crowded room of people. Honestly I think that social media may help more ‘tweens learn how to become self confident and sure of themselves.

What do you think? Is social media something that should be blocked from the younger generation? Or embraced?

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

World AIDS Day 2009: One Color Unites Us

In honor of World AIDS Day (December 1), I wanted to commend (RED) for their great branding strategies and ability to engage with the public through social media, advertising, and, most importantly, brand partnerships.

As most of you know, (RED) has combined forces with retail giants Starbucks, Dell and Gap (to name a few - see a complete list here) to create more awareness of AIDS/HIV in Africa (and consequently, it has spread to help those throughout the world). (RED) recently announced their newest partnership with shoe retailer extraordinnaire, Nike.

As most Public Relations, Marketing and Advertising students can tell you, the first thing they learn is that cause branding is a huge way to make an impact, as well as give your company the attention they need - without throwing advertisements in consumer's faces.

Today, on World AIDS Day, many different companies are working with (RED) to make sure we, the public, know about this day of knowledge and protection.

On Twitter posts, you can put the terms "#red" or "#laceupsavelives" and your tweets will show up in the color red.

On Facebook, the (RED) site gives fans a list of things they can each do to show their support and to help fight AIDS, such as purchasing Nike's red laces, posting a video on the Lazarus Effect (below) or change your profile picture to something red (they have a few choices).

Starbucks is offering 5 cents for every beverage made and purchased; Gap is offering 1 percent of all its revenues from US and Canada; and Dell is doubling its contributions until Dec. 2.

Not only does this increase sales for these (RED) partners, but it shows they are willing to give back and gives each a good name (at least for one day). And, I bet, the next time you are out shopping, and notice the (RED) logo, you'll think twice about purchasing something else.

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

The Twilight Saga: New Moon's failed attempt at advertising

I was reading AdAge, as I typically do, and came across an article on The Twilight Saga: New Moon and the advertising efforts they were engaging in. One particular ad caught my eye and made me think, “That’s a really bad and annoying idea.”

New Moon has partnered with MySpace to post its full page ad that literally takes over a person’s homepage. Not only that, but, pictures of the characters from the movie will appear in the corner of every page. Talk about intrusive – have the advertisers heard of “pop-ups”? Because this ad is looking scarily close to an enormous pop-up. And what do we do to pop-ups? Block them. Why? Because no one cares about them and, frankly, are annoyed at having to click the X in the corner of the pop-up to make it go away while trying to access the internet page they were after in the first place.

Another thing the ad agency should have thought of – its social medium. MySpace? Really? I’ve heard it referred to as the “white trash version of Facebook.” Does anyone even use it anymore? My theory here is that the advertisers approached Facebook about doing this ad on the site and Facebook (quite rightly) said no. So then they went to MySpace (which I understand is trying to reinvent itself as an entertainment-centric social platform - good luck).

Now, they did do one thing right with the ad, and that was to offer a free soundtrack remix through Apple’s iTunes if a consumer buys a movie ticket online. That’s great interaction with a customer and definitely makes the idea of buying a movie ticket online a better alternative to buying in the theater. The only thing they should have thought of was not putting it with one large pop-up on a dead social site.

This ad had the beginnings of a good idea. If the company had put more interactive links on the ad (such as links to character blogs, Twitter feeds – which, come to think of it, I don’t think they even have) and placed it in a better spot, or even its own site, consumers might have been more excited at seeing a large ad pop-up. Perhaps the agency should have looked at another vampire-esque show (True Blood) and taken note of their amazing ad campaign.

Overall, I rate this as a complete fail by an agency to promote, what should be, the easiest movie to promote in years.

Monday, November 16, 2009

Social TV

I've written about social media's impact on television before (check out my postings on Talent Zoo's Beyond Madison Avenue) and now more and more people and news outlets are recognizing the significance that social media is having on everything; not just friends updating friends.

I'm sure you've seen the commercial for, where you can interact with people online and share your opinions and ideas, etc., about television shows and programs. Studios are taking notice and have invented what they call 'social tv.'

Essentially what this means is that people no longer just want to watch tv, they now want to interact with others who are interested in the same genres (much like traditional clubs and networking organizations).

AdAge wrote an article today on 'social tv' and the benefits its giving to programs. As I'm sure you are aware, watching a tv program in "...the old school fashion..." (i.e. at the time it actually airs and with commercials) is not a common practice anymore. With social media, producers are able to track who is talking, texting, tweeting and facebooking about their show and then use that information to attract sponsors. Many programs, such as Tosh.O on Comedy Central, have incorporated social media into their programs (Daniel Tosh does a regular segment where he answers tweets he receives).

Borrowing a quote from the AdAge article, David Dickman, senior VP-digital media, Warner Bros. Digital said, "Extending the customer base to online is going to broaden your demographic push. The digital aspect is going to broaden out that base and just bring more people into the fold."

Mr. Dickman, you are correct. The face of how we connect with customers, clients and partners is changing and companies are rushing to catch it. Expect a few mistakes, but a ton of successes. It will be interesting to see how social media goes hand-in-hand with, well, just about everything media related. Perhaps we'll see discount coupons through Twitter, contests through Facebook and even a scavenger hunt that ties all social mediums together (imagine how fast that would bring in an audience!).

Monday, November 9, 2009

Southern Comfort targets men with online social sports series

A few weeks ago I wrote about Ashton Kutcher and his Facebook series, as well as the newest trend - Twitter series. It seems that companies are really changing their advertising tactics and heading to the internet instead of the TV.

Southern Comfort is just one of the many who is targeting consumers through online social mediums. They have asked the Break Creative Lab to create an 8 episode web series aimed at men and the holiday season parties, called Social Sportz Net.

The episodes offer tips on party planning and the format is similar to Sportscenter. The ad company can add this to their growing portfolio of 25 other online series. VP Jonathan Small says the key to these series is humor.

“Humor is the universal language of the Break audience. So what works are videos that look like Break,” Small said. “You can’t be too heavy handed. It helps to have a client who is aware of this.”

Lena DerOhannessian, Southern Comfort’s U.S. brand marketing director, said, “This is about showcasing the brand in real situations.”

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

A night in my life - Halloween

My mom, being the smart lady she is, mentioned something to me on Halloween about my costume. Although she didn’t agree with what I was wearing (she’d rather I went as a hot dog as I have done the previous two years) she told me I should write about my adventures in my costume and post it on my blog. Since I haven’t shared much creative writing with you, my fellow bloggers, I figured mom was right, and I would let you know about my two nights as…well, let me see if I can paint this picture for you.

A group of five of us dressed up and refused to leave each other’s sides all night. We wore long trench coats, fedoras and sunglasses. Underneath our trench coats? Well, we wore boxers and white undershirts. Get it yet? We were flashers…kind of.

The Friday before Halloween, we dressed up to go to the Star’s hockey game. I went to my friends house to get ready and after putting on our attire, getting me to leave the apartment was when it really hit me – my goodness, I’m going out in my undies.

For the next two nights, I was no longer Megan, I was an anonymous flasher, sneaking through crowds of people to unknowing prey. Ok, it wasn’t exactly like that. Actually, people kept asking if we were spys or a part of the Blues Brothers and no one really seemed too surprised when we “flashed” them, although they did tend to laugh.

And sneaking through crowds? Well, Halloween is a busy night, and you can’t even move to get a drink in a timely manner in a bar, forget blending in to the shadows.

Overall, the hype of being a flasher completely outweighed the actual being of a flasher. Perhaps I should try to be a flasher when it is not Halloween and I’ll get a better response…

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

What consumers want - the change of the face of consumer expectations

Social media has changed a lot about what companies are doing and what consumers now expect in terms of customer service. If a company angers someone, you better believe they’ll blog about it or share that information with a whole bunch of others through any social mediums, including,, and even Facebook.

Every consumer now has a voice, and doesn’t need to be a multimillionaire to share it with the rest of us. Consumer’s expectations:

  1. Hands on abilities and control of what they get (services, items, etc.)

  2. A person behind the brand or company

  3. A recommendation from people

  4. Option to speak with someone directly and, most importantly, quickly

  5. Easy search capabilities

  6. A good value

This is what social media is all about, creating brand advocates, and companies are scrambling to make it possible. Take a look at an article that AdAge did on EBay and how its reformatting to fit its consumers needs.

Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Microsoft's ease of use campaign

Typically, little kids mostly annoy me, especially in certain commercials (Welch's grape juice anyone?), but in this commercial, developed by Crispin Porter + Bogusky, Kylie is an absolutely adorable little girl - and the campaign has been getting great media attention.

Kylie is a 4 year old little girl who takes the audience through Windows Live Photogallery and demonstrates how easy it is to put together a presentation with pictures, music (my favorite) and quotes she's found on Microsoft, which she dubbs "nice words."

Why does this work? Tugging on heart strings isn't always the best idea, but this commercial hits it right on the nose. First, it engages the audience with probably one of the cutest little girls ever, and modest too! Then, as only little kids can, she shows you precisely what she is going to do, what pictures she is going to send, adds some funny music for a 4 year old, and closes the deal with the mandatory Microsoft line - "I'm a PC and I'm 4 1/2." There's not many commercials you feel you need to watch, but when a 4 year old comes onscreen to show you something, the audience automatically goes into parent mode, and watches patiently.

Cute is not always the best way to go in marketing campaigns, but CPB has executed the commericals perfectly. Cute apparently works as a marketing campaign for Microsoft and the next ones should only get better.

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Chic-fil-a: A Chicken above beef patties

Chic-fil-a not only has one of the best advertising campaigns, but its business model and way of conducting business is perhaps one of the best ever seen, and not just in fast food franchises.

I've mentioned it before, and I'll continue to tell you, but, my mentor Griffin Farley says, "Don’t plan for the ones you reach, plan for the ones they reach." Chic-fil-a has built a great brand for themselves through their mascots, the cows, but they didn't stop there.

You'll understand what I am talking about if you've ever been to the drive-through at Chic-fil-a during lunch time on a Tuesday. The line literally reaches the road and looks like it could take at least 30 minutes to get through. But don't fret! Chic-fil-a has hired a great bunch of people (respectful, helpful, and very efficient) to stand outside and take your order so that when you reach the drive-through window, your order is ready and all you need is to pay.

Many fast food enterprises should take note (McDonalds, anyone?). You can produce the best advertising campaigns and contests to entice people to purchase your products, but if the customers who are purchasing from you are not happy with your service, our social mediums give them the opportunity to speak their minds - to millions.

Brand advocates are priceless and Chic-fil-a has realized that - and have not stopped producing the best service even once they reached the top.

So, hats off to you Chic-fil-a, for understanding what the people want (chicken!) and giving us the best service while doing so.

Monday, September 14, 2009

One commercial to throw your glass at

First, let me start by saying, I'm not a feminist, simply a realist, and the one commercial (or commercials) that I CANNOT stand is the commercials.

The advertisers are targeting the right audience (men) by portraying "pretty" girls as Go Daddy girls, but, other than that, it's a failed attempt at anything other than interesting guys in, wait, I keep forgetting, oh yes, DOMAIN NAMES AND WEB SITES?

Correct me if I'm wrong, but don't commercials typically need to advertise the product they are selling? It took me two or three commercials before I even found out what Go Daddy sold. And honestly, I'm surprised no one has mentioned these commercials as being as obscene as say, Paris Hilton eating a burger (at least they have the product in the ad)?!

Go Daddy, may I suggest writing and producing a smart commercial? It may get you further than you think.

Sunday, August 30, 2009

One awesome commercial to raise your glass to

I like to recognize certain commercials whenever I note that the marketing and advertising department got it right.

Here is one that I absolutely love:

Snapple: Better Stuff (it makes me laugh everytime she says, "We're dating")

Saturday, August 8, 2009

Mike's Hard Lemonade Marketing to Wrong Audience

Mike's Hard Lemonade has recently come out with a series of commercials marketing their adult beverage, however, they may be targeting the wrong demographic. Many of their commercials feature men ages 25 to 30 who, judging from the commercials, are manly bachelors trying to decipher how to advertise the drink (my personal favorite is when they bring in a sommelier to evaluate the flavors).

The one thing they failed to look at was what they were selling. Mike's Lemonade primarily sells to women because of the fruity nature of the drink. If they had targeted these commercials towards women aged 25 to 30, I believe they'd have a better chance of increasing sales and consumption.

I understand that perhaps they realize they are missing a large portion of the male population and would like to decrease that gap, but, maybe it's a better idea to focus on the audience who is intersted in your product instead of one that may be almost impossible to entice.

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

How to keep your spirits up when times are down

Many thanks goes out to EVP of Talent Zoo, Amy Hoover for putting forth some great advice. As most of you know, the economy has not gotten better as so many others tried to say that it was (June was one of the biggest months of people being laid off!), so Ms. Hoover wrote about how the newly (and not so new) unemployed can dust themselves off and attempt to keep spirits up.
  1. Review your successes
  2. Surround yourself with supporters
  3. Recognize help when it appears
  4. Try new things
  5. Be good to yourself
  6. Set small goals so you can feel a sense of accomplishment
"This is the time to be your own best champion," she says. The article is entitled "I'm Good Enough, I'm Smart Enough..."

Friday, July 24, 2009

Five Reasons I Love Social Media

I was asked a question today about why I love social media. Honestly, there are so many reasons and it’s hard for me to choose only a few. So I did what any other social media savvy individual would do, and posted the question on Facebook, Twitter and other outlets. Of course, I got the opportunity to pick and choose comments (and it helps that I had written about most of the topics already anyway) but I was able to use social media to explain through social media why I love social media. I think fellow blogger Jenna McWilliams says it perfect when she says, "Social media is not a trend, but a fundamental human urge to communicate," and now we have more ways to do so.

1. 1 800 Customer Care numbers? Consider it a thing of the past. Remember long, long ago when we had to call that 1 800 number and wait on hold for eternity to finally get connected to someone in another country who was so far from executives that we were sure our complaint or problem would never be heard? Social media has changed that. Now companies have to listen to their customers, otherwise, consumers can broadcast their hatred (or love) of the company through Twitter, Facebook, YouTube and hundreds of complaint websites, among numerous other sites. It’s no longer a one-way conversation. Some companies have even jumped onto the social media bandwagon (as they should!) and created sites to ask consumers to help create and improve their brand (there are so many, but here are two of the most notable, Starbucks' My Starbucks Idea campaign which prompts consumers to share their ideas directly with the company; and Burger King’s WhopperSacrifice on Facebook, where consumers can trade in 10 of their friends for the love of the Whopper).

2. Networking: It’s not just face-to-face anymore. Look at social media this way – imagine all your customers coming together on a daily basis and talking about topics that pertain to you and your company, thereby spreading even more information about your company and gaining more recognition and consumers. I’m a huge fan of networking and brand advocates and social media gives us several more ways to do it. One of my favorite quotes comes from my mentor and good friend, Griffin Farley of 22squared, “Don’t plan for the ones you reach, plan for the ones they reach.” (Check out more on how brands are building advocates in social media on my post on Talent Zoo media’s blog Beyond Madison Avenue, The Friendship Model, Brandon Murphy of 22squared Gives the Down and Dirty.)

3. Being connected (this was the most popular answer I received after posting this question online). When something happens to ourselves or someone we know, instead of keeping it to ourselves, we share it with others through pictures, comments, Tweets, etc. It’s a new way to get news, support, or advice on anything! Not to mention, the best way to learn is through others, so what better way to educate yourself on advertising and marketing than following someone in that field’s blog, Tweets, etc. Who knows, it could even get you a job (Tweeter Neal Schafer had it happen for him after he started his blog and web site).

4. Creative campaigns. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again – If I had a TiVo, all I would record is commercials. I like advertising, but not because I want to learn about products, but because I like the creative ways utilized to showcase a product to consumers. And now with social media, they’re becoming even more creative. Viral videos, Twitter give-aways, Facebook fan pages, etc. I can’t get enough! Old school + new school = awesome, consumer-activity-inducing campaigns.

5. The best thing about social media? It is changing the way we think and is growing exponentially. Not one social media professional is sure where these new mediums will lead us, but I can tell you, it’s exciting to see this conversation connection evolution!

Thursday, July 23, 2009

Can I do a plug for myself?

I don't hear anyone saying no, so with that, I'm going to direct you to my latest post on Talent Zoo media's blog Beyond Madison Avenue, You're Not on Twitter Yet?

"It’s out there and everyone’s talking about it. It’s been proven to give companies an edge on competition and the ability to form a bond with customers. So why aren’t you involved in social media yet?..."

Twitter, the mother of all networking sites, is the best way to network with people who share like interests. It's not just for someone to tell everyone what they are doing every second of every minute of every day.
Start networking!

Monday, July 20, 2009

Facebook: The end of an era?

Hillary Rhodes from PC World wrote an interesting article today, saying that perhaps Facebook is past its prime. It's funny that I ran across this today, because I started my freelance social media campaign for Dolphin Blue, Inc. and realized that I was primarily focusing on Twitter. My client even asked me if he needed a personal Facebook page to promote himself (he's a major speaker), but I told him he may not get the mileage he wants out of it. I guess what I meant was, not many people use Facebook to the extent they use the rest of social media, such as the similar, but not as controversial LinkedIn, YouTube, Digg, and the mother of them all, Twitter.

Ms. Rhodes lists the reasons Facebook is losing interest and frankly, I think she's right.

1. Facebook veterans are defecting to Twitter

2. People who actually have lives don't use Facebook

3. In the real world, people often have good reasons for losing touch with old friends

4. Having too many friends takes the edge off Facebook postings (both my parents have Facebook pages now)

5. After that '25 things' note, there's not much left to say

To add to Rhodes' column, it's hard to completely be yourself on the internet. A person has to portray a decent image to everyone since they could be your future employer, someone to recommend you to a job, etc. Now, social media is the thing that connects us all and Facebook doesn't always show us in our best light.

How long until Facebook turns into a "remember when" memory? Not sure, but I feel like it's not too far off.

Thursday, July 16, 2009

Evian skating past the competition with new ad

Evian's new roller skating baby ads have established new records. The video has interested more than 14 million viewers to find the video online shooting it to the top of the Viral Video Charts.

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Southwest Airlines: A Social Media Case Study

Southwest Airlines, in many people's opinions, is perhaps the best airline available to date. They offer the opportunity to choose your own seat, they do not charge for menial snacks and drinks, and overall have great customer service. Now, with the inclusion of social media, the airline just gets better.

Currently, they have a blog, labeled "Nuts about Southwest." It details things such as reports on a plane's newest flight, a rapping flight attendant, a video blog and, of course, your typical blog entries about, what else, flying Southwest.

Southwest also has a company profile on LinkedIn, Facebook, Flickr, YouTube, and, the mother of all social media networks, Twitter. What's the biggest benefit to Southwest of being a part of the social media networks? The connection to customers, of course.

According to a post on the Buzz Bin, Nuts about Southwest's Brian Lusk answered this question, saying that the company changed strategic direction on assigned seating and advanced scheduling because of customer feedback through the mediums. managed to sit down with Paula Berg, Manager of Emerging Media for Southwest, at a marketing summit in Dallas, to see what Southwest is doing.

Next, I'm interested to see what Southwest does to tie these all together. Perhaps a new commercial with our rapping flight attendant? Or a competition to win a flight through Twitter?

Friday, July 10, 2009

Eat Mor Chikin

Not only do I absolutely love Chic-Fil-A chicken nuggets and those awesome waffle fries, but the advertising and marketing campaign developed by the Richards Group is one of the best around.

The campaign features black and white dairy cows persuading burger consumers to "Eat Mor Chikin." The campaign alone has been around since before 2003 and continues to go strong. They have their own football bowl, the Chic-Fil-A Bowl (formerly the Peach Bowl); cow plush toys; cow calendars; the giveaways; and entertaining billboards; to name a few.

Wikipedia notes a particular billboard in Knoxville, Tennessee, where construction has been ongoing for years, along Interstate 40 and featured an orange (instead of white) background with traffic cones and a cow wearing a safety vest. The text on the billboard read, "CHIKIN ZONE NEXT 3000 MILES."

The giveaways are perhaps everyone's favorite (of course!). Frequently, after opening a new store, the chain will give free food to patrons on opening days. Now, Chic-Fil-A is upping its giveaways, planning one for Labor Day and one for tomorrow. Tomorrow's giveaway is the fifth-annual Cow Appreciation Day, where patrons who dress up as a cow receive a free meal. Each restaurant may serve up to 150 "cows" that are the first to arrive and if a patron does not dress as a cow, but has a cow print accessory, the customer may receive an entree.

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

The good side of being laid off

I’ll be the first to say that being laid off is not easy. It’s hard on your wallet, your ego, and, most importantly, your self-esteem. Although we have the small comfort of knowing that we’re not alone (the unemployment rate is the highest it’s been since the 1980s), it’s still not easy to cope with.

However, there are some good outcomes and opportunities that come with being laid off. Essentially, getting laid off wipes the slate clean and gives you the chance to make the changes you may have been wanting to make, but haven’t had the time, or willpower, to do.
  1. Reevaluate your job/career path – You’ll get a chance to look at the career path you have been going on, and realize where you’ve truly wanted to be. Most of my friends do not like their jobs, and being laid off gave me the opportunity to objectively look at my strengths and my passions and find a career that fit with those. I reconnected with my mentor and we were able to decide what I was really meant to do and what I would be happiest doing.
  2. Reevaluate your passions – Remember the question, “What would you do if you had a million dollars and didn’t have to work?” Granted, a million dollars won’t give you as much as it would have when you were in elementary school, but it’s a question I’ve always asked myself. Before being laid off, I had no idea what I would do. Now, I know that I love to write. I’ll continue to do that even after I get my dream advertising job.
  3. Gives you a step up on others – Most people don’t look at it this way, but, take a close look and notice that you’ll be more resilient after hitting this huge hump. Next time you hit another hump, you’ll be better prepared, both mentally and financially, than those who haven’t been hit with so many unexpected events.
  4. Network – I’ve always been a big networker, but having so much extra time on my hands meant that I could go to all the networking events, meet new people and actually spend time listening and learning from the speakers instead of asking myself what I could have been doing at work at that moment. This also meant that I was able to meet people who were able to help me with my career, introduce me to prospective employers and lead me in the right direction.
  5. Build upon yourself – Since I was laid off, I’m able to learn more about my writing and ways to improve it, take classes to become a certified personal trainer, and expand my knowledge of my chosen career path (advertising and social media). In other words, now you have a chance to grow your knowledge and make yourself more marketable.
  6. Get organized – Remember when you were working 12 to 14 hours a day and could never clean your apartment? Or catch up with all the paperwork and little extras you’ve needed to do? Here’s the perfect opportunity. And when you get that great job, you’ll be able to focus.
“Life's challenges are not supposed to paralyze you, they're supposed to help you discover who you are.” – Bernice Johnson Reagon

Sunday, July 5, 2009

The Worthy

A heavy component of advertising and marketing campaigns is the commercial. Advertisers strive to make commercials that keep a consumer's attention, give the consumer concise and relevant information in a short period of time (without the viewer having to dig for it) and, probably most importantly, introduce the product and keep it in the consumer's mind.

Since I had to visit the pope and wasn't able to judge at Cannes (haha, I wish), below are the top five commercials that are currently (i.e. within the past week) playing on our TVs that have managed to capture all of the above. These are worthy of a round of applause.

5. Progressive - Great commercials. Yes, at times they can be annoying, but the concept works well and it isn't your typical insurance baloney we're used to.

4. E*Trade - Since the introduction of these at the Super Bowl in 2007, I've been a constant fan. The baby's facial expressions are priceless and the idea behind it is superb. Also, there are outtakes. Everyone loves outtakes.

3. "This is Sportscenter," ESPN - In my opinion, there are not enough of these broadcast. Perhaps the best one of the group is where both Manning brothers visit the offices, but really, I can't choose just one favorite of these.

2. Mac vs. PC - Although I am a self-proclaimed PC, these commercials are great. Instead of your typical listing of the amenities of a computer, we've got two gentlemen who will explain it to you in simple layman’s terms. And even though these commercials have been around for quite a while now, it still doesn't get old. Bravo Mac, bravo.

Drum roll please…and the winner is:

1. Bing, the search engine - To put it bluntly, it's perfect. Each commercial captures exactly what we encounter when we click "search" on other seemingly easy-to-navigate search engines and then gives us a solution; easy and straight to the point. What else could an American ask for?

Keep an eye out for my post, "The Best of the Worst," to see the top picks for the worst commercials on TalentZoo Media's blog, Beyond Madison Avenue.

Monday, June 29, 2009

Celebrity death conspiracy?

This past week we lost four well-known and respected celebrities, Farrah Faucett, Michael Jackson, Billy Mays and Ed McMahon. To add to the mayhem this created for everyone, rumors were spread that numerous other celebrities were dying as well.

Apparently Britney Spears, Harrison Ford, Natalie Portman and Jeff Goldblum all died the same day as Michael Jackson, thanks to a false web site,, and the hacking of Twitter. News of these celebrities "deaths" spread quickly, leaving one Twitterer asking the question, "why is everyone dying?"

Although I am a huge advocate of anything to do with social media, this was not the way it was meant to be used, nor was this respectful to those who did die this past week. But, it does show advertisers and marketers just how gullible and easy it is to capture audiences using social media outlets such as Twitter, Facebook and blogs. I believe advertisers will use this information and we'll see many more "fake"stories pop up, but this time, hopefully not about deaths.

Thursday, June 25, 2009

Interview with VP of Global Interactive Marketing for Coca-Cola

Carol Cruse, VP of Global Interactive Marketing, is attending her first Cannes Lions. AdWeek's Brian Morrissey got a chance to sit down with her and ask her about what Coke is focusing on, specifically social media. She gives some great insight.

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Grammar for Bloggers

Being that we have all become writers now, whether it's through blogs, Twitter, Facebook, etc., I feel it's imperative that we all remember what our elementary school teachers taught us about grammar, spelling and punctuation.

Social media has become the newest way to network with those we would have previously joined organizations to meet, but, even if you had a stellar resume, would you show up to a networking event just wearing old jeans and a t-shirt? Neither would I. It doesn't give off the professionalism that most of us would like people to see and your great resume would be overshadowed by a pair of ratty jeans. It's the same with writing. Why write an outstanding entry with errors in it? It undermines your knowledge and ability.

Below I've listed five of the most common mistakes I have seen (I could go on for 100 more mistakes, but I'll keep it short). Take a look at these errors and put your best foot (and image!) forward when writing:

  1. There, Their, They're - "there" refers to a place, "their" refers to ownership, "they're" is a conjunction of "they" and "are". Example, "Their house is over there next to the burger bar. They're planning on going there for dinner."

  2. Bullet points - keep bullet points parallel to each other. If you put a period at the end of one bullet point, put one at the end of all of them.

  3. Spell check - use it!

  4. Its, It's - "it's" is a conjunction for "it is," "its" is used whenever "it is" should not be in a sentence. Example, "It's not that hard." "The company hired its interns."

  5. You're for your - "you're" is a conjunction for "you" and "are." "Your" is possesive.

And lastly, I leave you with this tidbit - Always, always, always review your work! I have come across numerous blogs by top executives that have minor typos in them such as an extra letter in a sentence or at the end of a word, or even different font sizes and types. It does not make them look like the expert they are supposed to be!

For a future reference, when you're not sure the correct grammar or punctuation, use If you're not aware of how badly your grammar, spelling and punctuation are, take this quiz.

Monday, June 22, 2009

Reasons to use social media - and not just for hotels...

A list of 10 reasons to use social media for hotels was posted today on Not only was it informative for hotels, I decided that Ms. Susan Deluzain Barry's list could actually be used for everyone else who may, or may not be, interested in social media for their business or otherwise (Matt Jones, please take note...again).

  1. To replace the boring old newsletter

  2. To compound the power of people
  3. To record history painlessly

  4. To supplement (or replace) printed brochures

  5. To establish your hotel (or anything else!) as an expert

  6. To get customer feedback before you mess up

  7. To find out what your clients care about

  8. To set yourself apart

  9. To crack yourself, and your fans, up

  10. To humanize your business

Well said Ms. Barry. As you can see, this can apply to anyone in any business, or even for personal reasons.

For more from Ms. Barry, visit her at her company, Hive Marketing.

Friday, June 19, 2009

Don't Understand Social Media? Take a Look...

After reading my typical daily blogs (Seth's Blog, BrandExtract, Propagation Planning, etc.) I stumbled upon a few noteworthy things; two of which directly correlate to the other.

Advertising Age printed an article by Matt Jones entitled, "Why I Hate Social Media." Before opening the link, I knew I would disagree. Why? Because social media is awesome. It opens new gateways to connecting with brands, consumers and corporations than ever. Not to mention, it gives advertising agencies and "normal" people an option to stretch their creative legs and find other ways to express themselves and their brand.

In Jones' article, he tends to focus on the "media" part of social media, not the "social" part, where it should be focused. He says that many companies who are using social media, are using it to replace Web sites and advertisements.

Truthfully, I don't know many companies that have gotten rid of their campaigns completely and simply used Twitter to market a new item. What I do see, is a lot of companies utilizing social media and adding it to their already growing campaigns. It also gives consumers the option to interact more with the company and give feedback. Like I said, it's the "social" part of social media that makes it so important.

The second interesting item I found was a video, Social Media in Plain English, created by This video illustrates the power social media has.

So, Matt Jones, I ask you, why should we ignore social media?

Thursday, June 18, 2009

1 800 Customer Care Numbers? Consider it a Thing of the Past. Enter Social Media and the World Wide Web.

Ravit Lichtenberg from wrote on Read Write Web about corporations and the five "Must Haves" they need to create a solid online presence.

A lot of companies have jumped on the online marketing and advertising bandwagon (which they should) but have not used all the web's abilities to their utmost capacity. The ability to interact and create strong relationships with customers online is readily becoming the norm. Clients expect to be able to contact a company instantly with problems, concerns, ideas, etc. As I've mentioned before, your audience is in control.

She mentions some perfect examples of how companies are taking social media and using it to their benefit, such as BurgerKing's WhopperSacrifice on Facebook, where consumers can trade in 10 of their friends for the love of the Whopper. The application has recently been disabled since the love of the Whopper was confirmed after 233,906 friends were sacrificed. I'm sure we'll see much more from BurgerKing and others in this arena since it was so successful.

Another example she mentions is Starbucks' My Starbucks Idea campaign, which prompts consumers to share their ideas directly with the company, as well as interact with each other and vote on other people's ideas.

Lichtenberg says there are five fundamental requirements for corporations embarking on the online customer relationship forum. Here's the cliffnotes:

  1. Be a Panther, Not a Dinosaur - corporations must be flexible and commit to customer's needs and wants

  2. Evolve Your Organizational Culture and Structure - align internal culture with customer's culture

  3. Understand that Loyalty Is Key to Revenue - rely more on customer loyalty that charging inane fees

  4. Bring in the Right People - bring in people with solid, "in the trenches" experience

  5. Have a Strategy! - set goals, develop a plan and budget

To sum it all up, Ravit says "for corporations to remain competitive, they will need to become more flexible, put people at the center of their culture, and remain dynamically attentive to human needs. It is time again to realize that change should be embraced, not feared, and to put in place the right structures, strategies, and people to support this change."

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

The Quarter Life Crisis

Last night I received a message from one of my friends from college, "Ever just had one of those uneventful days where you just feel like life is purposely frustrating you?" My response - yes I have. It's called the Quarter Life Crisis.

Defined as (by Wikipedia) the "term applied to the period of life immediately following the major changes of adolescence, usually ranging from the early twenties to the early thirties."

If you are plagued with QLC, you might have the following symptoms:

  • feeling "not good enough" because one can't find a job that is at one's academic/intellectual level
  • frustration with relationships, the working world, and finding a suitable job or career
  • disappointment with one's job
  • boredom with social interactions
  • loss of closeness to high school and college friends

  • a sense that everyone is, somehow, doing better than you

  • extreme insecurity

And, to add to the already mounting personal problems, the awesome economy we have today is affecting our emotions as well.

The closer I get to 25, the more I notice all my friends taking off in their careers, getting married or buying a house. Sure, I'm a tad jealous about some things, but I also know that the one thing that connects us all is the constant question of, am I going in the right direction?

When we all graduate, we have this incredible idea of where we will be and where we are going. I'm going to get married and have an awesome career, etc. But, as the saying goes, life doesn't always go as planned. And even if it does, many of us are wondering if its the right career for us or what is the next step. And Real Life steps in.

Our generation is different from our parent's. More is expected of us, we have more choices and financially we're not as well off.

The Remedies:

  • use the value of networking and ask for someone to be your mentor. They can help make the transition into actual adulthood easier and may even be able to offer insight on things they may have done wrong and what they wish they would have done

  • start a blog. Write about what you're feeling and I guarantee a flock of people our age will readily comment about their woes. Also, writing always makes a person feel better

  • look at the decisions we make today as important, but not irreversible

  • write down your goals and plans for the next month, year and five years out and post them where you can see them everyday. It'll keep you on track and show you how far and accomplished you've become (if you don't know exactly where you want to be, find out where you think you'd like to be, i.e., buying a house, moving to a new place, etc.)

  • talk with others on online sites and get some advice from people who have been there and done that

  • realize you are not the only one - we're all in the same spot!

Although I can't guarantee that all this will make you feel 100% better, it'll help. And it'll get you on the right track.

Related Links:

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Every boy has his day

P&G has embarked on a new viral ad campaign and it's straight out of the Twilight Zone. Meet Zach Johnson, a 16 year old boy who one day wakes up and his "guy parts" have been replaced with "girl parts." The ensuing story is hilarious for all women who have ever had a monthly visitor. What it does for Tampax remains to be seen as it is not heavily branded.

The campaign, which boasts a Twitter account (@ZachJohnson16) and of course, a Web site chronicles Zach's days as a woman, from his first day and visit to the school nurse, to when he has his first period (videos can also be found on YouTube).

It's an interesting campaign and idea, however, I'm not sure this may be the greatest way to appeal to women and sell Tampons. What do you think?

Monday, June 15, 2009

New Rule - Your audience is in control

Meg Ferguson writes on Big Fuel's blog about social networking after attending Philadelphia's AMA conference. I loved the article!

Sometimes you may know things and not consciously realize you know it until someone says it (comedians are good at this, too). When I read what Ms. Ferguson wrote - your audience is in control - I realized a lot of companies know this but haven't put it into practice. In fact, many companies refuse to even acknowledge the presence of some social networking sites such as Twitter and Facebook to their detriment. It's not what the company thinks the consumer wants, it's what the consumer actually wants! And there is too many outlets to inform the company what their audience wants/needs to let it pass you by.

In conjunction with this, take a look at Griffin Farley's blog from 22squared. This is a great example of actually listening to the consumer. T-Mobile brought normal (i.e., not actors) people together to create an advertisement. Like Faris states on his blog, "The key is to produce something that both pulls people together and gives them something to do...We are social creatures - I'm sure you all agree - but we need reasons to be social."

Sunday, June 14, 2009

Online communities and companies - How to make them work

"Does a brand need to build its own online community or does a brand need to embed their community within an existing social network," asks blogger Igor Beuker on Viral Blog.

According to Beuker, it depends on the company's goals. He continues on to list the proper steps a company should take to create their online marketing strategy and gives excellent examples on companies with great social marketing, such as Jeep, Dell, Starbucks and even Barack Obama.

The best bit of advice he gives is he warns companies not to focus on making money before making their online community. Many companies have posted social pages and then wait for the community to come, making no effort to manage the page (for example, Wal-Mart's Facebook page).

"How to fix it: Don’t put the cart before the horse. When creating your online community, keep in mind the best interests of the people you are trying to reach. Communities don’t form around the idea of being monetized, so make sure that your community-building efforts have a clear utility built in for its members. "

The article, "Why Wal-Mart Needs a Facebook Strategy," brings great insight into the best way for companies to use social sites to their advantage.

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Subway measuring out success

AdAge wrote yesterday that Subway has now become the cost measurement for all food specials in restaurants. The $5 footlong promotion managed to capture an incredible amount of sales in the past year, making other restaurants scramble to match the $5 price point. Since then Dominos, Pizza Hut, Quiznos, Kraft have all created sandwiches or dishes at $5 or under. Although competition is getting nasty, Subway was right on the money when they started this campaign.

Take a look at Advertising Age's article.

One drop short of a pint of blood?

Vampires have bitten all of the U.S. and no one can escape romaticizing about these fictional beings on TV or in books. True Blood, the television drama series on HBO, has become a leading name in the vampire craze. The show is based on The Southern Vampire Series by Charlaine Harris where a telepathic waitress (Anna Paquin) falls in love with a vampire (Stephen Moyer) in a small town in Louisiana. The first season was watched by millions and was awarded numerous honors, including a Golden Globe. Even the advertising campaign is incredible and receiving acclaim throughout many advertising and marketing channels, however it failed in one part - to create a small piece of what it was marketing.

The ad campaign has gone leaps and bounds ahead of any competition, putting vampires in the forefront, creating partnerships with cars and razors, posting several Web sites seemingly targeted at actual vampires, and even creating products of its own, the most popular of which is Tru Blood, the synthetic blood nourishment beverage. All ideas creative and inventive, but one step short.

With the drink, Tru Blood, they actually failed to complete the idea - although Tru Blood was heavily advertised, the drink does not exist. There are posters and advertisements everywhere that "reminds vampires to drink responsibly" and, of course, numerous Web sites to support it, but it's confusing consumers.

"...when I saw this I looked all OVER the place," commented EnergyFiend on Entertainment Weekly's Web site once most people found that the actual drink did not exist. "I thought it was like a juice or energy drink and how awesome it would be to walk around with one of those bottles..."

I doubt many consumers will stop watching the series because of an absence of the drink, however, why not follow through with the campaign instead of only going half-way?

Harry Potter's marketing campaign is a good example of advertising going all the way through ideas. My favorite is the partnership they created with the Jelly Belly brand where they made Harry Potter jelly beans, complete with flavors such as boogers, grass and dirt. Considering how large the sales and buzz increased through items such as simple jelly beans, why put so much effort into an idea and its advertising, but not actually develop it? Building a partnership with say, The Coca-Cola Company, or PepsiCo Inc., and actually producing a red-colored drink might have captured an even larger audience, created more buzz and revenue, and most importantly, would not have failed to provide what advertisements promised.

Overall, the ad campaign is fantastic and an insight into what the advertising world will be reaching for next, but going to such incredible creative depths and not even providing a consumer with the information that the real drink does not exist means to me that the campaign was not completed. It is one drop short of a pint of blood.

The new season starts June 14 at 9 pm.

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

"Wanna get frosty?" - The Frosty Posse

I pay attention to commercials all the time; it's the hazards of starting a career at an advertising agency. I love watching commercials, ask my friends. I frequently make them watch my favorite, or not so favorite, commercials and give thorough explanations why they are good, or not. Fortunately one of my friends is in advertising, so it doesn't bug her, and my other friend, well, she's just awesome and doesn't care either way. DVR and TiVo? Not a chance in my house. I'd be recording commercials instead of the shows.

One commercial that needs recognition is Wendy's Frosty Posse. Bringing back 90s-era boy bands built from cubicles and what looks like tech geeks? What could be better?! Add awesome white outfits and stupendous dance moves and not only do you have an eye catching commercial, you have people (namely the target audience in this case) singing the frosty song with friends while out on the town. Wendys has even created a Web site for their new boy band. It includes the making of the video, behind the scenes extras and even bios on each of the band members. And, of course, there is a page dedicated to the new musical group on Facebook and a fan base (Ahh social media - I love you so).


TO: Laos
COPY: Dallas Fire Department
FROM: Former client
DATE: March 3, 2008
SUBJECT: Your duty

Dear Laos,

Recently, I had the misfortune (I say fortune) to call your station as an emergency arose. My dog, Mudd, fell into a hole in our house that we were remodeling. Being that Mudd is blind and deaf and certainly cannot get out from underneath the house, we had to call your services.

I must say that it was a privilege to see you at work, saving our beloved dog from certain doom. I admired your valor (and strong arms) as you pried up floorboards and hacked your way through darkness while not once showing any fear. (I have to ask, do you work out often?)

After successfully saving part of my family and departing back to the station, I decided I needed to thank you for your undying devotion to the art of saving kittens in trees and dogs under houses. So, I did what any single, hot-blooded, young woman would do. I made you banana bread and delivered it to you the next day, with phone number attached. But this time, you failed me.

I noticed on your Web site that your mission statement says, “Our mission is to prevent and suppress fires, educate and rescue citizens, provide emergency medical services, promote public safety and foster community relations.” However, you failed to do the last one. I know you felt it as much as I did Laos, so why did you not call? Your chiseled features and strong legs, lifting my toy poodle from a hazardous situation; your smile to me when I say we’ll do this again soon; the way you seemed so concerned when you asked what the problem was… *sigh.*

I’m sure the fireman’s code says it is your duty to romance a woman in distress, but yet, I have not heard from you. You came to my house and rescued a damsel/dog in distress, arriving on your big, red steed; wearing your large, princely pants to hide your huge…muscles, but left this princess all alone even after the giving of sacred banana bread.

I feel I must remind you that you have not yet completed your duties, but I shall forgive you once you arrive at my doorstep after reading this memo. I look forward to your speedy return.

Love, Rita

The Weight-ing Game

More and more (especially since it's summer), I've been hearing about every woman’s fight with her looks. Although this isn’t a new subject, I have been bombarded with information surrounding weight and plastic surgery more so than usual.

In our American culture today, a large part is about weight and body image. When women get together, a majority of the time, at least one says something about how they are dissatisfied with their body image. Appalachian State University calls this “fat talk,” and it requires the conversers to say something negative about their body, too. In fact, women in the conversation are looked down upon if they don’t say anything negative about themselves.

Consequently, one in five young women now take diet pills. The University of Minnesota conducted a study of 2500 teens and found that 63 percent of teenage girls are engaging in unhealthy weight behaviors, such as the use of diet pills, laxatives, vomiting, and skipping meals. Although the girls think this will help them lose weight, ironically, it actually is more likely to contribute to weight gain.

Some women are so upset with their looks, that they are demanding drastic changes to their body through plastic surgery. One woman asked for her belly button to be taken completely off.

How has it gotten so bad that we hate how we look? Models in the 1980s, such as Cindy Crawford and Naomi Campbell, were regularly a size 4 to 6, however, now, model sizes are 0 to 4. When did a size 6 become fat?

We need to embrace ourselves for who we are and what weight we are normally. One study has shown that actually being happy with yourself leads you to be at a healthy, normal weight. Tracy Tylka, assistant professor of psychology at Ohio State University, demonstrated how women who are more comfortable with their bodies are far more likely to follow a healthy eating regimen.

"The message that women often hear is that some degree of body dissatisfaction is healthy because it could help them strive to take care of their bodies. But it may be just the opposite: an appreciation of your body is needed to really adopt better eating habits," Tylka said.

If everyone looked the same, it would be boring. Variety is the spice of life, so let’s live it up!

Once upon a time...

…there was a beautiful, talented, wholesome girl. We’ll call her Rhoda. * Rhoda was a girl who was frequently asked out by boys, and on good days, men; however, Rhoda was never truly interested in the people from this species who chose to ask her out. Instead, she kept waiting for someone to sweep her off her feet, or, as she put it, “be lucky enough to have me be somewhat interested…oh, and carry a bottle of wine at all times.” When Rhoda wasn’t being asked on dates, she kept a very busy schedule with friends, Maggie*, Amanda* and work.

She was an incredibly sought after marketing executive who had recently spun off from her former boss’s company to create her own, Rhoda’s Awesome Marketing. Rhoda’s Awesome Marketing came about after she had an elicit affair with her boss of one year, Dave,* and soon found out he was balding and quite a bit older than she had originally thought. Overall, their relationship had been a good one for that week, but she eventually figured out that she deserved better.

Her marketing firm was doing fantastic business and was recently the front-page article detailing her new business invention, Being Nice, for Fortune magazine. It was a huge hit and helped many companies to be more adept at their business. Because of the publicity of this article, even Microsoft contacted Rhoda directly and asked for her help as a consultant in the marketing department. Of course, Rhoda agreed – how could she not consider making $1 million for a short-term contract? – and called up her friend Maggie, the only Project Team Assistant who had worked her way up in the consulting firm Vain & Company to manager.When Rhoda called asking her for consulting help, Maggie quickly obliged and sent one of her most accomplished consultants to be by Rhoda’s side.

Josh Tugudtobtru,* who had his undergrad from Harvard and MBA from Stanford, quickly became one of Rhoda’s greatest side kicks. Rhoda and Josh became instant friends and told each other everything, except Josh had a secret that he didn’t dare share with Rhoda. He had seen her stunning picture on the cover of Fortune magazine and had been crazy about her since, and only a month after beginning working with Rhoda was soon deep in love with the marketing temptress.

Maggie had not known of Josh’s admiration of her good friend and had been on the prowl looking for a perfect guy for Rhoda. She had been scouring every place she could think to find Rhoda’s perfect man, the pizza place, the wine store, every happy hour in town and even Rhoda’s firm, but she found none good enough for Rhoda; until one day when a co-worker of Maggie’s set up camp at the computer behind hers to work on a program. His name was John Hotforeigner,* from England. Maggie had spoken with him a few times before, at Vain sponsored parties, and one of the interns thought he was interested in Maggie, but Maggie dismissed this assumption. In her mind, he was already dating Rhoda.

He was handsome, a gentleman, had a great job and knew three different languages fluently. Not to mention he was tall and from England. Oh, and he also had a good personality. Maggie decided to introduce him to Rhoda at one of their Italian club meetings. She spoke with John throughout that Wednesday and eventually persuaded him to come to the ICTD meeting by informing him of a great business contact he could meet, James Gandolfini, the meeting coordinator. That evening, Rhoda and John met, ate pasta and chatted about their careers and hobbies. Maggie was pleased to see that they got along well, but was surprised when Rhoda later said that she wasn’t that interested in John and he seemed interested in Maggie. Being that this was the second time that she had now heard he might be interested in her, Maggie thought this was ridiculous, and decided to dismiss it.

In the meantime, Rhoda and Josh continued to work together, however Josh was beginning to feel that he needed to kiss Rhoda, touch her or do anything just to be near her. Pretending his feelings weren’t real wasn’t working anymore - he could barely contain himself!

Finally, one evening, when Rhoda and Josh were working late, Josh suggested getting a bottle of wine to share for a break since they’d been working almost 12 hours straight. Rhoda agreed and the two sat in the middle of the firm sipping wine together and working on the presentation for the next day. A few glasses of wine and 20 excel spreadsheets later; Josh could help himself no longer. Without thinking he reached over, grasped Rhoda’s arm with his right hand, brought his face closer to hers and kissed her. At first Rhoda resisted, but then she slowly gave in as the magic of his kiss touched her. Then, Josh let go, astounded at what he had done, but more surprised at how incredible it was to kiss her.

This started the beginning of a beautiful relationship and soon, marriage. During Rhoda’s marriage ceremony, she said in her speech that without Maggie, she never would have found Josh. And what about Maggie and John? Well, Maggie finally realized that John spoke mostly to her and he had asked her out on two dates already but she hadn’t noticed that’s what he had intended. The two began to date frequently and had a good relationship for a month before Maggie got bored and moved on to someone else at her work, Richard Finallybrkeupwhisgirlfriend.*

* Names have been changed to protect the innocent.

Secret Agent

In stealth mode, the secret agent and protector of all humans slowly snuck up to the dangerous blue monster of terror through a field of white. This blue monster had been wreaking havoc on one particular human female and this secret agent was determined that this did not happen again. The blue monster had struck the day before, making its victim lay down and sleep; and produced a horrible noise, almost like a train horn.

This secret agent knew it was only him who could help the world survive. Quietly, he crept behind the tall, wooden ledge where the blue monster stood guard. The secret agent climbed at a slow pace up the wooden plateau and then POUNCED! The blue monster started fighting back, but the secret agent managed to hold the blue box steady, ripping and shredding it to pieces. The secret agent, although not new at this, was surprised when the blue monster tried to fight back again, but the secret agent would not give up. He was the protector of all humans and this blue monster must die!

He threw the monster to one corner of the white expanse, holding a part of the blue monster while the rest of his body went in a different direction. The blue monster was incredibly hurt, but still alive. The secret agent ran to the blue monster to finish his mission. He shredded and ripped and ultimately killed the blue monster, flinging his body parts to the far reaches of the universe to save the human race –“Rambo! No!” The human female yelled at her dog, who was surrounded by blue Kleenex.

She had come home early because her cold was still making her sneeze and feel tired and had caught Rambo, her black, one-year old Chihuahua, red-handed, shredding an entire box of Kleenex, covering her living room and coffee table.

As Rambo ran for cover under the couch, he couldn’t help but think that it was a good thing his human had come so late, otherwise, the secret agent couldn’t have completed his mission and saved the world….

The Comebacks

Turn on the radio this summer and you’ll hear New Kids on the Block and Cyndi Lauper with new songs (and new CDs!). That’s right, musical artists from the 80’s are making a comeback, but will they succeed as they did before? What happened to ending on a high note (pun intended)?

Now, correct me if I’m wrong, but it’s 2009 now, right? That means these bands haven’t been performing since the late 80’s: Cyndi Lauper had her first hit in 1983 and New Kids on the Block hit their big time in 1988.Who decided that reuniting bands from that era and having them perform now with new material will be just as wildly successful as before? That’s like deciding that the boom box is going to make a return and be just as popular. Our culture has changed tremendously since the 1980’s, and I wonder if these stars can make music for today’s predominant audience.

Is the American entertainment industry interested in a pop idol who is 55 (Cyndi Lauper)? Or a boy band who’s average age is 39 (Donny Wahlberg is 39, Danny Wood is 40, Joey McIntyre is 36, Jordan Knight is 39 and Jonathan Knight is 40)? According to Wikipedia, New Kids on the Block performed on The Today Show on May 16, 2008, and the performance attracted one of the biggest crowds, some 4,000 people, in the show's concert series history. Cyndi Lauper’s release of her new song, “Same ol’ Story” was the number one downloaded song on the day of its release. Maybe I’m wrong and their success will top what they had previously, however, looking at statistics from preceding bands who have tried to return, it may be short lived. Numerous other bands have tried to make a comeback, but after their first released single, they weren’t successful either. Are Cyndi and the New Kids on the Block’s recent popularity a passing fancy?

The Backstreet Boys reunited in 2004, and their first CD out after their four year hiatus had only one song that made it to the charts in the US, “Incomplete.” Their newest CD, sans Kevin Richardson, Unbreakable, dropped out of the charts two weeks after its release.Does this mean New Kids on the Block and Cyndi Lauper are in style just this month? Probably. I guess we’ll have to wait and see if these bands can really make a comeback.

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

A horror movie, a mass lay-off, or a much needed vacation?

Currently, my life is this – waking up early in the morning at 8, taking the dogs out to the bathroom, going back to sleep and then waking back up at noon to either go to the gym or continue organizing my clothes closet, my collection of books, and even my files for all paperwork and bills this year. Not to mention, I’m still searching for a job.

I’ve been laid off.

But it’s not just me. The Bureau of Labor Statistics says that the current overall unemployment rate is 7.2% - a 15 year high for job loss. And I heard on Good Morning America (because I have time to watch that now) that if the unemployment rate keeps going as it is, we’ll be out of unemployment money by October! And the unemployment rate isn’t getting smaller. In fact, in the Great Depression, the unemployment rate didn’t reach low lows (think a 25% unemployment rate) until four years after the market crashed. Four! We could be on this roller coaster for a while. Er, or maybe, this downward spiral, is a better way to put it

But, I can say that I’m a little glad that I was laid off with the first group. If you think about it, being laid off is kind of like a horror movie. Imagine a beautiful house with no parents (I have no idea where they are) and five (at least) high school seniors throwing a party. The party is going well until that first friend suddenly disappears. The remaining four teenagers begin looking for their friend and find him dead. They, of course, go into a frenzy, realizing some demented axe killer is after them all and they must figure out how to stay alive! Talk about stress. One person dies and the rest know they could be next.

During these horror movies, I’ve always wanted to be that first person to die; I think I’d be so stressed if I was aware there was a killer murdering my friends that I’d have a heart attack. Well, I got my wish; I was the friend who died first, making everyone scared they could be next.

I hear now that everyone is walking on egg shells and just waiting to be axed themselves (pun intended). I’m glad I don’t have to worry or stress about who is next. It’s an upside to being gone before you know there’s a huge problem.

Another upside to being unemployed? Enjoy seeing the sun during the day is one of my personal favorites (my last office was in a basement). I’m also able to use this time to figure out what I really want to do for a career, whether I should go back to school, or even to just enjoy some needed time off. I’m also able to use the motto: “I’ve got time now.” I can go see that movie or catch up with a friend I haven’t seen in a while. I’m not working 12 hour days anymore. I’ve got time!

And the best thing about all the layoffs? Everyone is getting laid off so it won’t reflect poorly on your resume.

So what can we do in the meantime? Take that vacation you wanted or start that work out plan you haven’t had time to start. Hopefully Obama can get us out of this mess before it goes too far. I guess we’ll just have to cross our fingers and hope we’re on our way back up.